The Importance of Digital Twins in Asset-Intensive Industries: How digital twins can redefine Asset Lifecycle

Most manufacturers have adopted Internet of Things (IoT) to begin creating new revenue streams and boost efficiency. In asset intensive organizations or industries, asset management is moving from simple maintenance to a focus on operational efficiency that acts as an important business competency. Asset Performance Management (APM) is at the core of this digitization. For example, frequent production downtime in manufacturing costs companies hundreds of thousands of US Dollars per hour, while downtime of an Oil & Gas refinery can cost up to tens of millions of US Dollars per day. 

As the physical assets within your business become more digitally mature with a quickly accelerating amount of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) data, there is a need to harness the dataset generated to cover the overall asset lifecycle. With modelling, sensor data, visualization, and analytical capabilities expanding all the time, it’s now possible to merge these technologies to make a digital representation of any physical asset.

Digital twin models like Visionaize V-Suite® software can help organize data and align it into interoperable formats in order to optimize asset performance and reliability. This is done by replicating the behavior of the physical system or asset so that any change in the physical facility is instantly updated within its digital twin. Digital twins, as the name suggests, are realistic digital representations of physical assets. They help to realize value by enabling improved insights that support better decision making, leading to better outcomes within the physical world.

Who needs a Digital Twin and Why?

Every factory or plant floor and the management team look for digital twins that can quickly give the staff the insights that help to make important decisions at the right time.

  • Global and Regional Heads – Using digital twins can give informative visualizations of large-scale assets, track and compare factory and fleets, and identify high-performing and under-performing plants. They can then conclude what makes them succeed or fail; it provides an overview of the plants and ensures that it is in control and that assets are safe and reliable.

  • Factory Managers – A unified view of asset health to make sure factory production is predictable, safe, and efficient. Get accurate information for audits and course-corrections and give a comprehensive, consistent view of plant data for the team to collaborate and solve problems.

  • Engineers – Quick identification of potential operational problems and considered solutions. Know that the information is trustworthy to research, troubleshoot, and make fast and informed decisions.

  • Operations – Review as-operated and historical data to know what field changes and engineering decisions were made and why. Digital twins help operators see the large picture and optimize production.

  • Maintenance and Reliability – Monitor and manage equipment health and simply identify trends and bad actors. Get a clear understanding of what engineering changes were made.

Asset performance management and therefore the digital twin can help operations and maintenance teams achieve operational excellence by:

  • Creating added value by applying digitally-visual events and processes
  • Solving all existing and new operations and maintenance issues more quickly, proactively and efficiently
  • Leveraging real-time performance metrics and analytics to reinforce plant reliability and safety

Digital Twins of assets and infrastructure

While the concept of a ‘digital twin’ has been around since 2000, it’s only because of the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), engineering and operational technology that it’s become cost-effective to implement. Furthermore, digital twins are so imperative to business today and were recently named one of among Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends.

Digital twin refers to a digital replica of physical assets, processes, and systems which will be used for various purposes. It has to be ensured that for the digital twin to be identical, the physical and digital planning, design, construction, operations and decommissioning, should be same. Various asset-intensive industries and organizations use the technology of digital twin for asset life cycle management and operations. By transforming unstructured information into a sensible digital asset, plant operators are empowered to visualize, build, and manage structures, systems and facilities of all complexities, ensuring safe and efficient operation throughout the entire life cycle. Using digital twin APM 4.0 puts organizations in a position to shape the maintenance strategies of the future.

Role of ML & AI in APM

The flexibility and low cost of sensor technology along with mobile inspection workflows result in data growth, and therefore, the Industrial Internet of Things provides greater accessibility to data. This influx and availability of data requires technology and computing power to translate the information and give insight into future outcomes. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence are advanced techniques that provide even more analytical power. This capability surfaces otherwise unforeseen patterns, oncoming failures and their causes, process anomalies, and inefficient operations.

Moreover, ML / AI models provide accurate prediction (>95%) that can help detect failures of machines, components and systems, and provide sufficient lead time (from 2 to 24 hours) to the maintenance engineers to prevent the malfunctioning and minimize the potential damages. Finally, AI models are often used to raise the bar from predictive to prescriptive maintenance by combining the ML model with maintenance experience and heuristics to not only identify what will fail, and when, but to suggest a recommended course of action. For process industries ML / AI meta models are often constructed and trained to find out what are the foremost critical variables to the method and therefore the final product so as to optimize resources used, machine utilization, increase profits and minimize expenses.

Some benefits of Asset Performance Management, at a glance:

With APM, asset-intensive and asset-centric organizations can address various critical issues to understand business outcomes, such as:

  • Optimization of operational & maintenance costs (operational excellence)
  • Mitigation and prevention of worker safety risks and to better control environmental, health and safety (EH&S) incidents
  • Regulatory compliance and assessment of associated costs
  • A greater Return on Asset (ROA) by powering asset performance, maximizing revenue and through the use of predictive analytics
  • Increased output and productivity by helping to simplify support operations
  • Capabilities to form timely and accurate decisions through the capture of asset knowledge into AI models
  • Focus on data silos, data quality, and the mitigation of inconsistent and incomplete master data, in order to minimize inventory costs
  • Better alignment of IT and OT projects with APM investments
  • Better governance over asset reliability, maintenance and risk management strategies

The Final Say

More than just capital investments, digitalization is inevitably shaping every aspect of asset-intensive companies and businesses. Creating and using digital twins for Asset Performance Management allows companies to:

  • Form better and informed decisions
  • Define optimal asset reliability strategies
  • Manage inspection processes, reliability programs and assets health
  • Conduct advanced predictive and prescriptive analytics with ML/AI
  • Improve communication between different stakeholders using a common digital information model ( “a single source of truth”)
  • Save money
  • Protect the environment

Our V-Suite 3D Digital Twin is a comprehensive digital twin for asset management with AI-powered solutions and advanced 3D virtualization.

Connect with us to understand more about how we can improve your business operations using Digital Twin technology.